Reddit user Davidthecoward asked the atheist subreddit, “What is the best book to make a religious person question their beliefs?”
It’s a good question. Many times nonbelievers wonder how to assist a believer in discarding their Bronze Age belief system, and there are many tactics to choose from. Some may choose to fight anti-atheist prejudice by not mentioning their non-belief until they have formed a firm relationship with a believer. If you can undermine that sort of stigma, that could be half the battle in that person deconverting. Others may prefer to use street epistemology where one may “help people reflect on the quality of their reasoning through civil conversation.”
However, there is something special about giving a book.
Books allow someone to digest foreign ideas at their own speed, in their own time, and out of the public eye. And who can deny that popular skeptical authors are good at, well, popularizing rationality? Whether it’s the passionate prose of Hitchens, the depth and breadth of scientific understanding of Dawkins, or Dr. Joshua Bowen’s in-depth analysis of the Old Testament, such writers know how to change hearts and minds with the written word.
What we don’t want to do is to saddle a believer who is questioning with a reading list worthy of graduate school. That may just scare that person back into the comforting arms of religion. So, it becomes a question of which book is the best to give someone who is questioning.
Here are some of the replies to the question.
Reddit users commented that reading the Bible is a good way to become an atheist. Unfortunately, many believers don’t read it.
The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
Reddit user Quipore noted, “It doesn’t directly attack religion, but is about skepticism and logical reasoning.”
One atheist on the Reddit thread wrote it was this book that made him an atheist.
A History Of God: The 4,000-Year Quest Of Judaism, Christianity And Islam
Reddit user Justfun4Uss wrote, “Yeah, it’s really hard to argue doctrine to the indoctrinated. But a verifiable historical account not based around mythology can help at least spark a discussion or at least some questions.”
Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time
Agnostic Atheist commented that while this book doesn’t attack religion directly, it does give a person critical thinking tools.
Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists
Reddit user ExistentialReckning wrote, “It explains his own deconversion from evangelical preacher to atheist and president of Freedom from Religion. It doesn’t so much attack religion as explain what made him question his faith and ultimately leave it altogether.”
This was only a partial list. Check out the Reddit thread for other suggestions.
Was there a book that helped you leave religion?
Want a laugh? Check out comedian Anthony Jeselnik’s Bible story.
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